I’m really trying to get back into reading these days. Between parenting and a career that had me constantly studying for exams, I just couldn’t find the time or energy to fit it in over the past few years. But I’ve missed it. Reading good books has always been part of who I am. So I’ve eliminated other stuff, like time wasted in front of the TV or on Facebook, to make room for more mentally stimulating pursuits like reading. Here are a few of the books that I’ve enjoyed lately.
Elevate the Everyday – Tracey Clark // I read a lot of books about photography but this is one that really resonated with me. It’s light on the technical aspects of photography, because frankly you can get that most anywhere. What it’s full of instead is inspiration around bringing more emotion into the images you capture, suggestions and ideas for themes that will better tell the story of you and your kids lives. We all remember to take lots of photos of the big events: holidays, parties, birthdays, etc. But this book is about creative ways to capture all the details and routines that make up our every day lives. Though it uses the tagline “A Photographic Guide to Picturing Motherhood,” I think this book really works for any parent with a camera, mum or dad.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain // I can’t even begin to explain how great this book is. Whether you consider yourself an introvert, work with / live with / are friends with an introvert, or have kids who are introverts, this book is full of insights into personality and how introverts function in a Western society that’s evolved to value the “Extrovert Ideal” where “our reverence for alpha status blinds us to things that are good and smart and wise.” Personally, I’m an off the chart introvert according to the quiz in Cain’s book (didn’t need to take a quiz to know that). But so many aspects of how I’ve functioned in work and life situations are all now completely clear. No freaking wonder I could never get any work done in those bloody open plan offices my boss compelled me to work in “to raise my profile.” What I never expected to get from this book though were insights into parenting, because this isn’t a parenting book. But Cain is full of wisdom into recognising introversion in your child, acknowledging that this isn’t problem to fix, but instead a personality to nurture. “Delight in the originality of their minds. Don’t expect them to follow the gang. Encourage them to follow their passions instead.”
Field Guide to Now – Christina Rosalie // Filled with her mixed media art, this book is as gorgeous to look at as it is to read, an example of one of those books that should never be read as an e-book. It would completely undermine the experience. Rosalie fills the pages with her lyrical and down to earth stories of every day life and mixes them with invitations and activities that suggest how to engage in the present tense of your own life. “Remarkable things emerge from the smallest, most ordinary circumstances – from taking note and then taking action.” The chapters are short and easily digestible, intentionally so, as she fully realizes how most of us are short on time, especially with children underfoot. Her narrative is compelling and heart warming and every time a read another chapter, I feel like I’ve spent time with a close friend.
French Kids Eat Everything – Karen Le Billon // I know I’m not alone in wanting my child to eat a well-balanced healthy diet, and struggling on a daily basis to make this happen. From the beginning, when my little man started eating solids, I’ve always been very conscientious about the types of food he gets (very little processed food). But as he’s gotten older and more independent, we’ve had our struggles, our periods when every food on his plate was brown. And 5 a day? Not a chance. So a friend who shares my struggles recommended this book and it is really enlightening. “Chances are, my children are not going to grow up to go to Harvard, or to be major league sports stars, concert musicians, or NASA astronauts. But no matter who they grow up to be, HOW and WHAT my children eat will be of great importance to their health, happiness, success, and longevity.” In North American culture in particular, we put so much emphasis and energy into making sure that our kids excel in academics and athletics, but we pay little attention to teaching them to eat healthy well-balanced diets full of fresh food, fruits and vegetables. Le Billon’s call to action? “Parents: YOU are in charge of your child’s food education” and she outlines a number of food rules to help jump-start your curriculum planning.
On Writing – Stephen King // I’m not a fan of Stephen King, having never read a single one of his works of fiction (or watched any of the corresponding movies). It’s just not my genre or something I find appealing. But, this book consistently comes up on any “must read” list you find of books about the process of writing. And it’s excellent. The book is part memoir, part writing lesson written in the straight forward style one would expect from someone who believes “the adverb is not your friend.” The book was at its most compelling when King recounts the accident in 1999 that almost killed him and his struggles to recover and even write again. “The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.”
Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn // Fiction for me has become a long-lost friend, that friend from high school who you used to talk to every day but who you lost touch with and now only talk to once every couple of years. I used to read loads of fiction, but now I can’t seem to get through a work of fiction to save my life. It’s like I just cannot let go and escape, as if deep down I’m telling myself to use what little time I have to read for really thoughtful things that will impact my life. So Gone Girl is one of very few works of fiction that I’ve stuck with recently, I think because it was a compelling read, a book of two different halves, full of mystery and intrigue. And with an ending that made me very, very, angry.
What books have inspired you lately? I’m always looking for suggestions.